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Colts Weekly Preview: Week 3 Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans
It’s been a pretty poor start for the Colts so far this year. I know, I know, the Colts started 0-2 last year and were one game away from the Super Bowl. However, last year, they were actually playing well in the first couple games. This year, the Colts have been a complete mess, all over the place. They have struggled to block, receivers have struggled to make plays, Andrew Luck has made some bad decisions, play calling has been shit, and the team is already banged up with injuries. But if you want to read about my thoughts on the Colts so far this year, you can check out my Week 1 and Week 2 recaps.
This week the Colts are playing their first divisional game of the year against the Tennessee Titans. This is a very important game for the Colts to keep up with the division. The Titans, are looking to possibly become the sole leader in the AFC South.
After watching both of the Titans games on NFL GAME PASS, I am a little worried about this game as a Colts fan. Marcus Mariota had an excellent game in week one, and pretty poor game in week two. Even though he had a bad week against the Browns, I don’t know if he will struggle like that against the Colts. The Browns sacked Mariota seven times and forced five fumbles, the Colts still haven’t proven to have a pass rush since 2013. Robert Mathis is back, but he didn’t get very many snaps in last week’s loss, and I’m not sure how much of an impact he will have on the game.
The Colts, however, should be able to get their offense going this week. The Titans’ defense is suspect at the very least, and I think this game should help the Colts find their rhythm.
What are the Colts’ strengths in this game?
The Colts’ strengths haven’t changed despite them looking like weaknesses over the last couple weeks. Andrew Luck and this Colts offense is ready to blow. The Colts haven’t lost an AFC South game since 2012, and have beaten the Titans 12 of the last 13 times they played. The one loss came while Curtis Painter was the quarterback, the year Peyton Manning was hurt. The Colts’ were one of the most explosive offenses in the league last year, and they have shown glimpses of that in the past two games. Everything was a mess on Monday Night Football, but if they Colts can get more consistency, from everyone, they will boom. They just need to keep the offense balanced, and when Frank Gore starts going, keep him going. Don’t take the ball away from him when he is finding holes and getting chunk yardage.
I’m going to give some love to the Colts’ defensive line this week. They played really well against the Jets and they will need to play well again. Henry Anderson, the defensive end rookie out of Stanford, had five tackles (two for loss), and a sack. I’m seeing the confidence beginning to soar, and I think he will have another great game.
What are the Titans’ strengths in this game?
The Titans have had a lot of success moving the ball down the field so far this year. Rookie, Marcus Mariota, has done a great job getting the ball out of his hands quickly and into the hands of his playmakers. He can get flustered at times, but for a rookie quarterback, he has looked great so far.
The Titans are fifth in the league rushing so far and I don’t seem them dropping too far from there as the season goes, probably a top ten rushing team in the league. Part of the reason for that is that they are dedicated to the running game. One of the best things you can do to help a young quarterback is run the ball. It takes a lot of the pressure off the quarterback when they aren’t asked to do as much. If the Titans can get their group of running backs going they may be able to get that elusive win against the Colts.
What are the Colts’ weaknesses in this game?
The Colts are plagued with injury in their secondary. Thank goodness Vonte Davis passed his concussion protocol, and is playing on Sunday, or the Colts would likely be down to 4th string and lower on the depth chart for corners. Even with Davis, the Colts are struggling in the secondary. They will need to see improved play from their recently brought up, practice squad players if they want to prevent the Titans from throwing on them.
Self-Afflicting wounds. The Colts have turned the ball over at an alarming rate. They are the favorites to win this week, however, if they turn the ball over the way they have, they are going to lose again. You can’t be negative three or four in turnover differential and win in this league, it just doesn’t happen. They have also shot themselves in the foot repeatedly
The Colts also need better and more consistent play from their offensive line. The few good runs they had last week, came back because of holding. They will need to protect Luck better and open holes for gore without racking up the penalties that have absolutely killed them.
What are the Titans’ weaknesses in this game?
The Titans gave up a few really big plays in their game against the Browns last week. I expect the Colts will test them deep down the field, just like the Browns did. The Colts are itching to get this offense going and I have a feeling that once it starts to rain, it will pour.
Inexperience could be an issue for the Titans. They are one of the youngest teams in the NFL, compared to the Colts who are the oldest team in the NFL. They are also very inexperienced in the most important position, quarterback. If this is a tight game at the end, I think the Colts have the clear advantage.
Colts’ Keys to the Game:
Can the Colts play a clean game?
This was one of the Keys last week, and the Colts played one of the ugliest games. They had five turnovers and nine penalties. Anything but clean last week. They need to win the turnover battle, and preferable not cough the ball up at all this week. Likewise, they need to not have stupid penalties. It is a huge momentum breaker when you get a big play, and it all comes back due to holding, or shut the other team down on third down, but giving them a first down on a penalty. It happened a few times each week so far, and it’s not the way to win in the NFL.
Can the Colts keep Andrew Upright?
Luck was not sacked at all last week, and has only been sacked twice for a total of three yards loss, but sacks aren’t the only thing involved with this key. They have to give Luck time, and allow him to throw the ball without getting hit. Bad things happen when you’re quarterback gets hit. Luck has thrown five interceptions so far this year, all while being pressured. It hasn’t happened yet, but one wonders how many more hits Luck can take without getting injured. The offensive line just simply has to play better.
Can the Colts win in the trenches on the defensive side of the ball?
The defensive line played great last week, and they are going to need to play great again this week. The Titans are running the ball extremely well so far this year, but if the Colts can win the battle on the line of scrimmage, good things will happen. This includes getting pressure on and hitting Mariota. He fumbled the ball five times last week, hopefully they can force a similar outcome this week.
Titans’ Keys to the Game:
Can the Titans play a turnover free game?
Turnovers are huge in the NFL, giving your opponent extra possession and a short field absolutely kill you. The Titans can’t afford to turn the ball over to the Colts like they did to the Browns. Mariota has yet to throw an interception in the NFL, although he hit a few Browns right in the hands and they dropped it (I guess that’s why they play defense).
Can they win the battle on the line?
The Titans are going to need to keep busting open holes for their running backs to keep the pressure off of Mariota. They are currently rushing for 4.7 yards per attempt which is good for 4th best in the NFL. On the other side of the ball, they will want to make sure they are getting a good pass rush, and with as few players as possible. The Colts have struggled to protect Luck again this year, and it is really showing with Luck committing six turnovers already.
Can the Titans continue to run the ball well?
I have harped on this a lot in this hub, but the Titans have to continue to run the ball well against to help Mariota ease into the league. The less he has to do the better. You don’t want to make your rookie quarterback try to out throw anyone, but especially a quarterback like Luck. The Colts have historically been a very bad run defense team, so let’s see if the Titans can take advantage of that on Sunday.
Who will win?
I picked the Colts in the first two games, and the way they have played makes me feel a little crazy to pick them again. However, I am picking the Colts to win this game. I think after being thoroughly embarrassed on Prime Time TV will help kick start this team. The offense has looked terrible, but a large part of that is the protection for Luck. Look for the Colts to give Luck some more time this week, and the Colts get the win.
Colts 28 Titans 20
Check out the rest of my NFL Week 3 Predictions!